Monday, February 12, 2007

Process and Practice: It's an AND, not either/or

I'm reading Thinking for a Living by Thomas H. Davenport and find it rich with perspective and useful classification tools and models. In the 4th chapter, he puts a clear stake down (with a reference to this classic John Seely Brown and Paul Duguid's Organizational Learning and Communities of Practice article) that improving knowledge worker processes has to work with, not against the practice of how the work gets done today.
"A pure focus on process in knowledge work means that a new design is unlikely to be implemented successfully; it probably won't be realistic. We've all seen examples of new process design or models that don't have a chance of working in the real world. On the other hand a pure focus on practice isn't very helpful either - it leads to a great description of today's work activities, but it may not improve them much."
That tension between process and practice, like the combination of art and science, change and structure is not dualistic - even though we usually approach the need to make people change with a Treasure of the Sierra Madre mindset. Sometimes I think the reason we frequently characterize these combinations as either/or is that it is much simplier to continue in current state or blow things up than to plan and manage to emergence.

1 comment:

judi said...

This is a test to be sure my comments button is working.